Hulu Accused in Class Action Suit of Throttling Service on PCs

Gene Maddaus

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Hulu has been hit with a class action lawsuit that claims it deliberately throttles its service on web browsers.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 16, contends that Hulu is trying to force subscribers to use its app, so that it can more easily collect and sell their data.

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The suit claims that Hulu engaged in false advertising and fraud when it claimed that high-quality streams would be available “on all your favorite devices.”

“Defendants prefer that users use the Hulu applications because, compared to computer browsers, applications provide more direct access to consumers’ personal data during online and offline use,” the suit alleges.

The lawsuit cites complaints on Hulu’s community discussion board, including one from a customer who wrote that “video quality is HD and fine on my TV where I’m using a FireStick, but on my PC the quality is horrible.”

A Hulu rep responded, “Apologies for the trouble! Our team is aware of this issue and are actively working to re-enable High Definition streaming on Hulu.com.”

However, commenters followed up to say the problem had not been fixed months later.

The issue has also been discussed extensively on Reddit. In August 2019, a Reddit user posted a conversation with a Hulu customer service representative, in which the user complained about low quality video on a PC.

“OK so i did some research right now and it seems due to a recent deployment released to Hulu.com, HD Quality (720p) has been temporarily disabled,” the Hulu represented wrote. “All content will be streamed at Standard Definition (480p) quality for the time being.”

The rep said that Hulu was working to re-enable high definition streaming on Hulu.com, but suggested using another device in the meantime.

The suit seeks to represent all Hulu subscribers nationwide, in addition to subclasses in California and New York that would be able to bring state-law claims.

A Hulu spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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